Bitcoin (or something like it) hits the mainstream with new series ‘StartUp’

Call it a case of art imitating life.

The shadowy world of computer hackers, long an object of fascination in movies and popular culture, may be about to take a new leap as an entertainment vehicle. As hackers, anonymous data leaks and cyber intrigue fill real-world headlines, a new television show called “StartUp,” featuring similar themes, launches on Tuesday — but with an added twist.

The 10-episode drama will debut on Sony Pictures’ streaming platform Crackle, and centers around three strangers who find themselves enmeshed in a digital currency scheme (hello, bitcoin!) while fighting the FBI. “StartUp,” which includes actors Martin Freeman and Adam Brody, has already released its first episode for viewers to watch on Reddit.

GenCoin, the fictional digital currency used in the show, loosely represents bitcoin, currently world’s largest digital currency. Given that it’s difficult to regulate and trace, some say it’s an ideal vehicle for criminal activity such as money laundering.

Brian Stoeckert, of Stratis Advisory and a risk management and money laundering expert, served as a consultant to the show in an effort to inject the narrative with accuracy. He explained to CNBC in a recent interview that the idea of a cryptocurrency is still relatively unknown to the broader public.

“People have heard about digital currency, but they really don’t understand how it operates. They just see it on the headlines,” Stoeckert told CNBC. “This is one way they can follow a story line and get a unique perspective on it,” he added.

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